Perhaps it’s the residual glow of a long weekend and the resulting abbreviated work week, but it feels as though the arrival of October has ushered in a distinct change in the atmosphere. While It’s unlikely that you would require justification for doing so, it’s high time you started thinking about spritzing, given that peak aperitif season is upon us: specifically, expanding your horizons beyond Aperol and into a distinctly Australian summer spritz.
This week, the Sydney-based distillery, Archie Rose Distilling Co. launched the first instalment in its Summer Gin Project – a two-part, limited edition spirit series that intends to distil the essence of Australia’s most extreme season and its diverse terrain into two distinctive tinctures, both of which feature distillates of sustainably sourced wild plants, fruits and herbs foraged locally. Unveiled first, Bush, notable for its bold top notes of eucalyptus, features an impressive bouquet that includes vibrant native wax flower for a pronounced citrus and earthen elements; wild farmer’s friend, an edible weed with grassy tones; native thyme, for its potent herbal elements; peppery, wild foraged Dorrigo pepperleaf from northern New South Wales; and pink peppercorns, for their fruit forward woodiness. A second concoction, Coast, will launch next month.
To bring the seasonal concepts to life, the Master Distiller, Dave Withers, reached out to Diego Bonetto, a specialist in ethical foraging and wild food, to identify and harvest botanicals whose inclusion wouldn’t necessitate further large-scale cultivation or have an adverse impact on the natural environment. “Working with Diego has made us re-evaluate how we view botanicals,” Withers remarked of their collaboration. “[It] has allowed us to appreciate the craft and impact of distilling from a unique standpoint – that of the environment from which these ingredients are typically harvested.”
On occasion of the collaboration, and the arrival of spritz-friendly weather, Harriet Leigh, Head of Hospitality at Archie Rose, has devised the following recipe for a ‘Samphire Spritz’, which enlivens the formula for a gin-based spritz through the inclusion of citric yuzu, a dry riesling (preferably Australian, of course) and a salted samphire syrup. Samphire, a native succulent with the texture of asparagus, grows in coastal areas during the summer months but is also cultivated and available at select grocers for those adverse to a little foraging of their own. With its natural saltiness, it provides a moreish, distinct foil to the spritz’s tart, vegetal palette.
“We’re big on Spritzes here at Archie Rose,” says Leigh. “That’s because we’re not daft. What’s to not like? The rule of thumb for a Spritz is it should have some passing connection to wine (most commonly vermouth or any number of Italian aperitif), some kind of carbonation, and look damn inviting. But they also stand up very nicely to gin. If you think about it gin is a vessel of flavour – it’s there to bring a splash of the botanic to your glass.
“In summer, when the heat is too demanding and you’re sitting in the shade bored of the same old G&T, perhaps what you’re really searching for is a Gin Spritz instead. Here’s a beautiful recipe to welcome in the warmer days and nights.”
“This Spritz is all about freshness,” Leigh explains. “Bush is packed with herbaceous eucalypt flavour. Wax flower will shine through most other competing flavours and here the citric punch of yuzu and the fruit burst of a good Aussie Riesling are no match for Archie Rose Summer Gin Project: Bush. Have a gnaw on the samphire garnish while you drink to add an extra punch of saline.”
45ml Archie Rose Summer Gin Project: Bush
15 lemon juice
45 dry riesling
15ml Salted Samphire Syrup
45ml soda water
Salted Samphire syrup
100ml boiling water
To make the salted samphire syrup, dissolve sugar and salt in water and let the samphire soak overnight. To make the spritz, simply add each ingredient into a tall, well-iced glass and top with soda water.
Tile and cover image: Nikki To/Supplied